Friday, November 12, 2010

Coffee realizations

My Mother-in-Law came over today.  I thought she seemed emotionally tired.  As always, I asked her if she would like me to make some coffee.

Note, if your Mother-in-Law is Brazilian and drinks coffee, always ask if she would like some the moment she arrives at your place.  Coffee is almost as important as the kiss on the cheek.  If she says, "no, it's ok. I don't want to cause you any trouble." The correct answer is, "It is no trouble at all." Yes, there is a right answer and no, it really isn't a big deal to make a pot of coffee.

If she should say "Only if you are making yourself some or only if you are going to have some", there are numerous answers but it all ends up with you making coffee.  I usually opt to just drink some. There's about a tablespoon in that tiny cup and it saves me from using up my allotted Portuguese words for the day.

I have found that after a certain number of Portuguese words, my brain stops producing them. You'd think after 5 years my brain would stop going on strike but it persists. I think it's as stubborn as I am. Go figure.

Anyway, today I asked her if she'd like some coffee.  She looked at me, sighed, and said "yes, yes I would."

I didn't know what to do with myself at first.  A direct answer from someone down here?!  There was a little fizz and a bit of smoke came out of my ears.

After all these years, I thought I would be so happy without the typical hoop jumping, but instead it saddened me.  First off, I had my jumping shoes on and ready to go. Secondly, I missed the social norms, the prearranged opening script.  A huge red flag started waving over her head, warning warning something amiss.

And honestly, there was. It sucked to see someone I love hurt and so emotionally worn. 

Of course, coffee was served and emotions started to flow, venting was done, and everyone was a smidgen lighter.  Not only is coffee a great Brazilian crop and a potential social landmine for foreigners, it's an opportunity to sit and share.

Coffee anyone?


  1. I hope everything's alright with your Sogra, but for mild problems, coffee really is the perfect cure!

  2. She's hanging in there. It's the Grandmother, she hasn't improved.

  3. You are totally right. Yesterday I was thinking just that. I've been having my crazy first month with a newborn and I found myself a tiny window on it to shower and brush my teeth for the first time at 5pm. I caught myself going to the kitchen first and sneaking a tiny piece of chocolate. At that moment when I locked the bathroom door and tasted the chocolate I just knew everything would be alright, as long as there was chocolate in the world. I didn't have anyone to vent at, so I cried just a little bit alone, but I was ok. And some nights, I smell a glass of red wine. I know it sounds pathetic, and I myself never knew that a smell would make me feel so good, to get my hopes up that eventually this phase will pass and in the end I'll miss it.
    Some kinds of food (and drinks) are confort for the heart, make you feel like home, make your heart open up and share.
    You were at the right place, at the right time, and was lucky enought to be able to offer to your MIL exactly what she needed. And she was lucky enough to have a sensitive woman for a DIL, that could see through her and offer her the shoulder to cry on. These are the moments that create the real bond between people.
    On another note, praying here things improve with your granny.

  4. I always love hearing about the cultural differences in other countries... But seriously, now I want some coffee! :)